LOS ANGELES: The wait is over – Lebanese dance team Mayas won season 17 of “America’s Got Talent” and spoke to Arab News backstage to say they “can’t believe what’s happening.”
To the cheers of the audience, Mayas jumped high and took home the $1 million grand prize.
“We can’t believe what’s going on,” one of the group members said after celebrating the crew’s victory on stage. “We can’t believe what we’ve achieved, giving so much energy, leaving our work and our education, devoting our time to training every day to be here to represent our country and that’s what we’ve been looking for.”
“We were so nervous about the fact that we had to (prepare the dance) in two to three days, but when we got up on stage and heard the cheers, the audience gave us a boost and the adrenaline rush wasn’t there and we did it,” another member said.
The crew’s choreographer, Nadim Cherfan, said, “This win has given me a chance to dream again. When you have a dream and you achieve it, you start looking for another dream. So I am very happy that there is something to look forward to now, something to dream about, something to fight for” .
“I am so proud, @mayyasofficial you deserve this!!!!” AGT judge Sofia Vergara tweeted after the group crowned the winners.
The dancers presented Vergara with a necklace bearing the symbol of the Lebanese cedar tree, which she showed in her interview with LBCI Lebanon after the broadcast of the episode.
“I come from Barranquilla, Colombia, and in Barranquilla we have a huge community of Lebanese, like Shakira for example. So we grew up eating Lebanese food and dancing to Lebanese music. It’s a country very close to my heart,” she told the announcer.
She added, “I am very happy because in moments of trouble and trouble, every now and then something beautiful like Mayas appears and distracts everyone.” “I am so happy this is happening. I am happy. These girls deserve the world.”
Meanwhile, Judge Simon Cowell said, “That’s big. I just think they’re going to represent the country the way they did, with that talent and dignity and grace, and to do something that the whole world will look at, I think is huge.”
“I could feel it in the room, and that energy behind me and I thought, ‘No one will beat them,'” he added. “These people have the most extraordinary talent and are very kind people. I was not surprised. I can’t tell you how happy I was when I heard that name.”
Coyle believes that “world domination” is the next step for Maas.
For their winning performance in Tuesday’s final, the group danced to white-clad Arabic tunes, comic feather fans and shimmering balls of light.
The audience raised the Lebanese flags in the hall, cheering the crew.
The dancers received a standing ovation from the four judges – Vergara, Cowell, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel.
“Brilliant. Another level,” said Vergara, who awarded Mayas the Golden Buzzer after his first test in June.
“That’s what a million dollars looks like,” Klum said. “I brought an A game every time I came, and tonight was even better.”
“This is my all-time favorite job at AGT,” Mandel said.
“This is so cool for you. It’s so amazing for women, for women’s empowerment, for your culture….”
The group enjoyed strong support from their Lebanese fans throughout the competition period. The International Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation launched an advertising campaign in the United States under the slogan “Karmalek Ya Lebanon” – which translates to “For you, Lebanon” – to promote and support Mayass.
LBCI supported the group with advertisements on its television channels and social media, and also worked with local and Arab media in the United States to support the campaign.
“The Lebanese around the world have shown us great support,” Cherfan previously told Arab News. “We have received a lot of messages. Everyone supports Mayas. Everyone is rooting for Mayas. So I am really grateful to the Lebanese diaspora who really supports Mayas.”
Several celebrities have also helped raise the group’s image.
“Please return the title,” Lebanese singer Maya Diab wrote on Instagram Stories after her last performance. “You raised Lebanon’s name just by displaying art in such a beautiful way that the world was talking about it. We love you and are proud of you, whatever the outcome.”
The star Haifa Wehbe also supported the group before the final result.
“Mayyas wowed the judges and audience of America’s Got Talent with an amazing performance. She said.
“Silent. It keeps getting better,” wrote Dubai-based Lebanese influencer Karen Wazen, sharing a clip from their latest performance.
Maya has always been a winner on TV talent shows.
Cherfan, who was 14 when he fell in love with the world of dance, formed the group to compete on the sixth season of “Arabs Got Talent”, stunning the band and astonishing judge and Lebanese pop star Najwa Karam who awarded them. Immediate entry to the final with her golden bell. They eventually won trophies.
“I chose a female crew, because I wanted to convey a message about women’s empowerment, as we all know that even today, Arab women are still called dancers. I wanted to prove how elegant and beautiful a dancer is,” said Cherfan in an interview with Arab News at the time. And who better than these gorgeous ladies to do that?”
But winning one of the most prestigious talent titles in the Middle East was not enough. With success came the self pressure to do better. “The golden bell, the warm applause, the lovely comments from the judges, and winning the title itself are challenges, because they are pressure and a responsibility – in those moments (all I can think of) ‘what next?’ Sherfan said.
In the same year, Mayas competed in “Britain’s Got Talent: Champions”, part of Britain’s Got Talent, where the group was the only activity from the Middle East that participated.
The response from the judges and the public has been overwhelming. “Quite a genius – brilliant and innovative … (I’ve never seen) a dance like this in one of these shows,” said Judge Simon Cowell at the time.